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What We Read Today 08 June 2017

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).

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Topics today include:

  • UK election exit poll: Theresa May loses majority

  • Comey testimony: Ex-FBI boss says Trump team lied, but stops short of obstruction charge

  • James Comey's Remarkable Story about Donald Trump

  • Trump lawyer accuses Comey of 'improperly' leaking memo to press

  • Comey says Trump is creepy but not a crook

  • Paul Ryan Says ‘Death Tax’ Hurts Wisconsin Small Businesses. IRS Data Shows Otherwise.

  • Napolitano: Why Reality Winner may be a true blue American patriot

  • UK election exit poll: Theresa May loses majority

  • Bill Gross Says Market Risk Is Highest Since Pre-2008 Crisis

  • 300,000-Year-Old Remains Place Oldest Homo Sapiens in Morocco

  • The Enigmatic Erdstall Tunnels of Europe: Purpose - Unknown

  • Humans Wiped Out the Hobbit: New Study Suggests Homo Sapiens Caused Extinction of Tiny Homo Floresiensis Species

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

U.S.

  • Comey testimony: Ex-FBI boss says Trump team lied, but stops short of obstruction charge (Fox News)  Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before a Senate panel on Thursday could have President Trump’s legal team breathing a sigh of relief since he stopped short of alleging obstruction of justice – but his otherwise scathing comments guarantee the political controversy and Russia-related investigations are far from over.  Comey, in his high-profile appearance before the committee, accused the administration of defaming him and said comments made about his competency “were lies, plain and simple”.  Comey also told lawmakers he decided to document meetings he had with Trump because he was “honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature” of their discussions.  Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said moments after the hearing's conclusion: 

"This is nowhere near the end of our investigation."

President Trump appears to be guilty of obstruction of justice. That’s the only rational conclusion to be reached if James Comey’s opening statement for his planned testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Thursday, is to be believed. The lurch of the Trump Presidency from one crisis to the next scandal produces a kind of bombshell-induced numbness, but that should not prevent us from appreciating the magnitude of Comey’s statement.

  • Trump lawyer accuses Comey of 'improperly' leaking memo to press (The Hill)  President Trump’s private lawyer on Thursday disputed key details of former FBI Director James Comey’s congressional testimony and accused him of improperly leaking “privileged communications” with the president.  Marc Kasowitz, the president’s outside attorney, said that Comey “admitted” to sharing the contents of memos recounting the fired director’s private interactions with Trump with a friend, who then leaked them to the press.  Kasowitz said, suggesting Comey may have committed an offense:

“Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the president.” 

There’s much discussion in Washington already about how creepy and inappropriate Trump sounds in Comey’s recounting, but the major victory for the White House is that Comey makes it clear that Trump’s conduct did not cross the line into obstruction or other illegal behavior.

Being a creep, after all, is not against the law.

  • Paul Ryan Says ‘Death Tax’ Hurts Wisconsin Small Businesses. IRS Data Shows Otherwise. (ProPublica)  Does the estate tax really hurt small businesses? House Speaker Paul Ryan thinks so.  He revived this longstanding debate in a May 17 column in the Kenosha News, in which he defended the Republican plan to abolish the levy on inherited wealth. Ryan wrote that the “death tax” can “result in double, and potentially even triple, taxation on small businesses and family farms, both of which are prevalent in Wisconsin”.  ProPublica reports that there are approximately 445,000 small businesses in Wisconsin, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration and in 2015 the IRS said 61 estates in Wisconsin got hit with the tax.  The analysis presented in this article concludes that most of the estate tax payers are very wealthy and only an extremely small proportion of farms and small businesses are impacted.

  • Napolitano: Why Reality Winner may be a true blue American patriot (Fox News)  Last weekend, the FBI arrested an employee of a corporation in Augusta, Georgia, that had a contract with the National Security Agency and charged her with espionage. Espionage occurs when someone who has been entrusted to safeguard state secrets fails to do so. In this case, the government alleges that the person to whom state secrets had been entrusted is 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner, who had a top-secret national security clearance.

The government claims that Winner downloaded and printed a top-secret NSA report, removed the printed version of the report from her employer’s premises, and then mailed it to The Intercept, a highly regarded international media outlet that exposes government wrongdoing.

The government says it learned of this when folks from The Intercept called the NSA and told agents what they had received and what they planned to publish. After hearing agents describe the potential harm to their work if the full report were to be released, The Intercept agreed to redact certain portions, though it published the bulk of the report.

UK

  • UK election exit poll: Theresa May loses majority (Politico)  Britain could be heading for a hung parliament and days of political chaos as a shock exit poll predicted that Prime Minister Theresa May has fallen 12 seats short of an overall majority.  The poll, published as polling stations closed at 10 p.m. U.K. time, predicts the Conservatives will win 316 seats, down 17, with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party behind on 266, up 34.  With other parties picking up the remainder of the 650 parliamentary seats, the projected result would leave May’s Conservatives short of an overall majority and only able to govern with the support of other parties.

But with only the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist and Ulster Unionist parties, likely to win between 8 and 11 seats between them, likely to back her, such a result could open the door for Jeremy Corbyn to lead a minority Labour government with the support of the Scottish National Party, who are projected to take 34 seats, the Liberal Democrats, projected to win 14, the Greens, Welsh national party Plaid Cymru and the Northern Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party.

uk.exit.poll.politico

Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics, and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea

  • 300,000-Year-Old Remains Place Oldest Homo Sapiens in Morocco (Ancient Origins)   A re-evaluation of early human remains and artifacts from Morocco has pushed back the advent of Homo sapiens by 100,000 years. Two new papers suggest the oldest of the fossils comes from 300,000 to 350,000 years ago. This may lead researchers to re-think their general search in the area around the Great Rift Valley of East Africa for the origin of our species.  Phys.Org reports that the skulls, teeth, and long bones of at least five Homo sapiens, along with stone tools and animal bones, have been found at Jebel Irhoud, Morocco since 2004. Before now, the oldest accepted dating for Homo sapiens remains were said to be from the site of Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, dated to 195,000 years ago and Herto, also in Ethiopia, from 160,000 years ago.  This new discovery now moves the advent of the first humans back to the dates assigned for the first stone tools.

  • Humans Wiped Out the Hobbit: New Study Suggests Homo Sapiens Caused Extinction of Tiny Homo Floresiensis Species (Ancient Origins)  In October 2004, excavation of fragmentary skeletal remains from the island of Flores in Indonesia yielded what was called "the most important find in human evolution for 100 years".  Its discoverers dubbed the find Homo floresiensis, a name suggesting a previously unknown species of human. It has frequently been referred to as the ‘Hobbit’ species due to its small stature. Homo floresiensis went extinct about 50,000 years ago and now new evidence suggests it was Homo sapiens who were responsible.

  • Bill Gross Says Market Risk Is Highest Since Pre-2008 Crisis (Bloomberg)   U.S. markets are at their highest risk levels since before the 2008 financial crisis because investors are paying a high price for the chances they’re taking, according to Bill Gross, manager of the $2 billion Janus Henderson Global Unconstrained Bond Fund.  Gross, 73, said Wednesday at the Bloomberg Invest New York summit:

“Instead of buying low and selling high, you’re buying high and crossing your fingers.” 

  • The Enigmatic Erdstall Tunnels of Europe: Purpose - Unknown (Ancient Origins)  An erdstall is a type of tunnel that is found throughout Europe, mainly in the south-eastern German state of Bavaria and Austria. Erdstalls are thought to have been created during the Middle Ages, though some have claimed that these tunnels date to the Stone Age. At the moment, nobody is entirely certain as to why such features were made in the first place. Those who advocate the idea that the erdstalls date to the Stone Age are of the opinion that these structures are a network of subterranean passages that stretched from Scotland all the way to Turkey.


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